Why the Nike Hijab is an Important Step Toward Inclusivity

Just days after announcing a size-inclusive line of clothing, global sportswear giant, Nike, made another stride toward inclusivity when it unveiled the Nike Pro Hijab. Emblazoned with the brand’s signature swoosh, the polyester “performance hijab” was designed to be breathable and lightweight, but still meet the modesty standards of a hijab for female Muslim athletes. The product comes after complaints from professional athletes that traditional hijabs are too heavy and shift while playing sports.  

Sports participation is already lower among females than males, and Muslim girls and women who veil are faced with additional barriers to athletics. It was not until the 2012 Olympics that Muslim women were allowed to wear the hijab in all events. FIFA, the world soccer federation, did not lift its hijab ban until 2014. As the industry leader in athletic apparel with a major global presence, Nike’s decision to introduce the Nike Pro Hijab with a viral female-positive campaign will undoubtedly improve the visibility of hijab-wearing female athletes everywhere.  Though other performance hijabs have been created by small companies, no major American sportswear line has picked up the product concept before Nike. The innovative and functional design of the Nike Pro Hijab is a game-changer for Muslim women athletes that allows them to embrace both their athleticism and religion.In the western world, women who choose to veil are often unfairly typecast as being oppressed and restricted by their religion. The photographs of women wearing Nike’s new sportswear hijab were captivating to me in that they shattered that stereotype. Does figure skater Zahra Lari (above) look restricted? She is an image of confidence, athleticism, and grace. Until the Nike Pro Hijab hits stores in spring 2018, there is hope that this campaign by Nike will begin breaking down the stigma and bring to light the strength of the hijab-wearing woman.  

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